Mozilla Firefox 3.6 RC1 now available, benchmarked


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The Mozilla product development and engineering teams are hard at work again, this time with a rollout of the first Release Candidate build for the long anticipated Firefox 3.6. We received notification a couple days ago that the build is now available for download and is intended to be used for pre-release testing. As many know, the final build was scheduled to be released in Q4 2009 but was pushed back to Q1 2010 and could very well show up sometime later this month or during the next few weeks. In the meantime, it is possible that Firefox 3.6 RC1 could be very identical to the final build, most notably in its feature set and in its performance improvements.

We took the opportunity to do some benchmarking between today’s most popular browsers, including Firefox 3.5.7, Google Chrome beta, Safari 4.0.4, Internet Explorer 8 and the new Firefox 3.6 RC1. The benchmark of choice was Futuremark’s Peacekeeper, a free online benchmarking tool for measuring and comparing the performance of common internet browsers, which has been available since March 2009. Our hardware setup consisted of a Core i7 Extreme 965 running on an EVGA X58 SLI Classified E759 with 6GB of DDR3 1600MHz and Windows 7 Ultimate x64.

Our tests seem to indicate that Apple’s Safari browser still dominates the competition with a performance score of 5401. For the past few months, Safari on Windows has seen incredibly positive performance advantages which might come off as ironic to some, considering the fact that Apple is crushing Microsoft at its own game. The new Firefox 3.6 RC1 build comes in second place with a score of 4352 and seems to outperform Google Chrome for the first time in over a year since the latter browser’s initial release. The latest Chrome beta build comes in third with a score of 3772, followed behind by the recently-released Firefox 3.5.7 build with a score of 2871.

Although we didn’t have to include the last browser in the mix, it was done just for kick and at least deserved to be recognized on the map. We're talking about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8, the laughing stock of the flock, which gave a resulting performance score of 1409. In perspective, the difference between Safari 4.0.4 performance versus Internet Explorer 8 performance is roughly 47-percent.

Firefox 3.6 Release Candidate 1 brings many improvements to the browser front-end over the previous 3.5.7 release. The most notable updates include alerts about out-of-date plugins, improved JavaScript performance, support for the HTML5 file API, the ability to run scripts asynchronously, single-click appearance changes using Personas and improved automatic form-filling. Full release notes can be found here.

Firefox 3.6 RC1 is now available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and can be downloaded here.


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